Protein Origami

Biology Level 1

Out of the \(\num{124}\) amino acids that make up the ribonuclease enzyme, there are \(\num{8}\) cysteines. These amino acids can come together like velcro to form strong bonds that hold a protein into one folded configuration. A cysteine can form a bond with any other cysteine, and every cysteine is always paired; so the enzyme has a total of four bonds.

Only one arrangement of bonds will yield a correctly folded and functional ribonuclease enzyme capable of chopping up RNA molecules. In most cases, this folding process does not depend on the order that the bonds are formed.

If each protein randomly folds into one arrangement, what fraction of enzymes will be functional?

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